Tuesday, December 10, 2013
(Continued from page 1)
Christina Kouros, training with spotter Eric Topper of Maine Handicapped Skiing, is the favorite to win the women's wheelchair division of the Beach to Beacon 10K this morning. Kouros, a Cape Elizabeth resident, made her 10K debut in June, finishing in 49 minutes, 20 seconds.
Photos by Glenn Jordan
Christina Kouros, 16, has raced in high school indoor and outdoor track, as well as Nordic skiing events.
THE BIG RACE
WHAT: The 14th Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race
WHEN: 8 a.m. today
WHERE: Cape Elizabeth
START: Route 77 near Crescent Beach
FINISH: Fort Williams
Chief Williams provided Thursday's police escort so Kouros could cover Shore Road one time before the race, and perhaps ease her concern about another crash.
Topper also urged Kouros to stop hugging the side of the road and stay closer to the double yellow lines, a much easier task this morning when the road is closed to automobile traffic.
"I understand why you're training that way," Topper said as Kouros pushed her way into the final hills, ignoring a postcard scene of the sun rising over the Atlantic as dark rocks in Pond Cove revealed themselves at low tide. "You're trying to share the road with cars and stuff, but it's time to stop thinking about that. The trick on race day is to be using the whole road."
Kouros said her goal is to finish the race in less than 50 minutes. Regardless of her time, Topper thinks her involvement can both educate and attract.
When spectators see someone from New Jersey or Massachusetts win the wheelchair race, they appreciate the effort for one day. When they find themselves waiting behind her sister's bicycle or Williams's flashing blue lights, "Now people think, wow, that is true," Topper said. "You have to train for this. You can't just go out on the roads (in a wheelchair). ... These guys from New Jersey, nobody had to deal with supporting them on hills and things like that around here."
Topper said organizers of next weekend's Falmouth Road Race are flying in 20 wheelchair racers to Cape Cod and paying their expenses.
"This race can be that," he said. "What does it take to do that? How much sponsorship (money) do we have to raise? What does that budget look like for next year if we were to fly in 10 people and put them up? That already exists for the elites here."
Perhaps, Topper said, Kouros will have a lot more traffic around her in future years, in the form of fellow wheelchair athletes.
"This division is at the crossroads of what Joanie had in mind," Topper said, "that (B2B) is this elite race but also people's opportunity to be their first race."
After finally reaching Fort Williams Thursday, Chief Williams unlocked the gate to the old entrance near the pond and Kouros wheeled herself to the bottom of the last incline, the steep switchback that signals the end is near. Difficult? She shrugged it off.
"This hill probably won't be," she said. "But that last hill ..."
She nodded her head in the direction of Shore Road's final obstacle, the rise between Dyer Pond and Fort Williams.
"... that was hard," she said.
Not to worry. This morning, perhaps more than anyone else wearing a Beach to Beacon bib, she's likely to hear plenty of encouragement.
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:
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